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Thread: Removing Frets on a Neopolitan bowlback

  1. #1
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    Default Removing Frets on a Neopolitan bowlback

    I have a Neopolitan bowlback mandolin which has one fret that is low compared to its neighbours. I am considering raising the fret, rather than lowering the others, by removing then refitting.
    Can anyone tell me /show me about frets on this type of mando?
    Thanks

  2. #2

    Default Re: Removing Frets on a Neopolitan bowlback

    Frets are frets. The main concern I have with pulling frets is damage to the fretboard. Stewmac sells a very good set of fret removal pliers. I've made a couple of copies of what they sell by patiently applying a pair of wire end cutters to a belt sander. The temper of the steel is compromised but the function of the tool as fret removers is as good as the ones sold by stewmac -- just don't use them to cut strings but rather keep them for only removing frets. You can apply the same idea to very small end cutters and create a tool that works well for mandolins where there frets are too close together for the large pliers.
    When I remove frets, I will usually take my 100Watt soldering gun, put a bead of solder on the tip, and run it across the length of the fret before I use the piers. No more than two seconds of applied heat. Even on older fretboards, it will soften the resins in the wood and reduce the likelihood of tearing out fretboard wood. Still, sometimes you do end up with tear-out but be prepared for it and do the work over a clean white surface so you don't lose little pieces that are easily glued back in place with CA. Stewmac sells black CA which is really great for repairing fretboards. Solder will attach itself to fretwire but it is easily cleaned off with careful use of a file and 600 grit sandpaper.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Removing Frets on a Neopolitan bowlback

    To answer my own question .......
    I found a fret that was already loose and with a little gentle persuasion managed to remove it.
    A simple metal (brass i think) rectangular profile bar approximately 0.9mm thick and filed on one side to produce the profile shown below. Quite easy to produce a replacement if necessary.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: Removing Frets on a Neopolitan bowlback

    Early Martin guitars used bar frets, and other manufactures. While there are bar frets available for guitars, I have not been able to find the narrower ones for mandolin . You can saw the fret slots wider and use the narrowest ones you can find. If your neck is bowed a tighter fret will compress in the slot and can straighten the neck. Sometimes you can raise the fret and glue in for a low fret, but the one you have doesn't look like there is much left.
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

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  8. #5
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    Default Re: Removing Frets on a Neopolitan bowlback

    You could try gluing it back in a little higher than the others, and then re-levelling.

    You might be surprised at how non-level the others are though... I typically remove them all, level the board and then refret using the original wire.

  9. #6
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    Default Re: Removing Frets on a Neopolitan bowlback

    Yes Tavy that's probably what Ill do. At the moment I know three frets that are too high and one that is too low.
    When I get the strings off I'm going to use a fret rocker to find any others

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